Breaking the mould to provide enhanced patient care
In 2017, experienced NHS echocardiographer, Sean Gundry, set up UltraCardiac with his wife Sarah, who has a career background in banking. They saw there was a significant need in their home area of East Cornwall and West Devon for a more streamlined and connected pathway for outpatients who urgently required echocardiograms
Prior to the Gundrys setting up UltraCardiac, if the NHS and private providers locally needed to view, report or share scans, it was common practice to burn the patient scans on to CDs or memory sticks, as the files were too large to email. These CDs and memory sticks were then sent to the relevant cardiologist or healthcare professional who uploaded the images on the appropriate imaging system to be reviewed.
With a national shortage of qualified echocardiographers, and an increase in the demand for an echo, outpatient waiting times grew to an average, 16 weeks - much longer than the national guidelines.
The lengthy process of sharing the images between primary and secondary providers, would often mean they were not available when patients went to hospital for a follow up appointment resulting in scans being repeated. This convoluted process contributed to an additional burden on NHS staff, resources and patient waiting times.
What impact has UltraLinq had on UltraCardiac services?
Remote working is no barrier to real time peer reviewThe UltraLinq platform enables instant collaboration and accordance of clinical conclusions between the sonographer team working in remote locations, ensuring the company maintains a 100% quality assurance record
Optimised quality and efficiencyBy offering a calm, patient-centred 45-minute patient appointment, UltraCardiac adheres to British Society of Echocardiography guidelines. While patients don’t feel hurried, the speed of upload of their images and data is exceptionally fast. UltraLinq allows streamlined clinical workflow with customised patient reports that can be viewed side-byside with the patient’s echo images. These efficiencies have allowed the company to grow quickly and envisage roll out across the UK.
Integrated, instant clinical collaboration and discussionUltraLinq can create pre-set working groups to allow accelerated sharing of reports and exams. The clinical group can review and comment on each patient report and share their opinions with clinical colleagues instantly, via UltraLinq.
Faster access of patient data for GPs and consultantsUsing the UltraLinq cloud-based platform ensures UltraCardiac can share all patient data with the patient’s clinical team within minutes of the patient appointment. This provides effective patient triage for GPs, a full report for cardiologists, and expedited reassurance or clinical follow up for patients.
100% assurance of patient data security and complianceUltraCardiac’s use of UltraLinq means that the company is able to reassure its NHS and private clients that all patient and clinical data is fully encrypted to the highest possible international standards.
Cost effective and flexibleAs UltraLinq is a cloud-based platform, there are no expensive server updates, storage or IT maintenance costs. All the training, technical integration and client services are included so has turned out to be cost effective for the business.
Using cloud technology to streamline workflow
The idea to launch UltraCardiac emanated from the desire to help address these problems and ultimately provide better patient care. From the company’s inception in 2017, the Gundrys realised they needed to address the biggest obstacle which was to simplify the way images were stored, reviewed and shared between internal and external healthcare providers. After an extensive review of various system providers, the Gundrys decided to break the mould and opt for a cloud-based PACS solution, UltraLinq.
They found utilising the cloud-based UltraLinq platform, allowed their sonographers to seamlessly capture, store and share all of the patient’s echo results within minutes.
UltraLinq also allows the in-house sonographers to instantly view the scans in diagnostic quality and write the NHS compliant patient report with a summary of findings. As part of the UltraCardiac Quality Assured service, every report is peer reviewed before being shared. Once completed, the full patient report and scans can then be reviewed via a secure link by the patient’s GP or clinical care team. Remarkably, within two months of the launch of UltraCardiac, local NHS secondary care outpatient echo waiting times reduced from 16 weeks to 6 weeks. Two years on, UltraCardiac provides private and NHS outpatient echos for the entire region – amounting to over 200 patient scans per week – and impressively, outpatient waiting times are currently down to just 3 weeks
What’s next: Bringing the service to the community
As well as running a clinic from its Plymouth base, UltraCardiac has started to provide a community focused echocardiogram service, visiting local GP practices and community hospitals so more patients can have their heart checked close to home.With the freedom of a cloud-based UltraLinq platform, the company can provide identical levels of service delivery from remote outreach locations as from the Plymouth clinic.
The best thing about UltraLinq is having a cloud based server, this means that clinicians can see those images in
multiple locations at the flick of a mouse and we can share those images in a much more timely manner than has been
possible before. If you’re able to offer the the appointment for the echocardiogram faster, get the information back quicker and share it with the people that need to see it, then the patient can receive the clinical care they need in a much more timely fashion. In medicine, time is an important factor, so if the whole pathway is speeded up it can only lead to more effective care and treatment for the patient.
Clinical Director and Echocardiographer at UltraCardiac
Dr Penelope Atkinson
UltraCardiac’s service is really efficient and they have a great team who are as passionate as we are about helping patients receive timely diagnostics outside of the acute hospital setting. The patient reports are clear and very easy to read, with the main clinical findings signposted for us. It is wonderful for a GP to be able to communicate the results of an echo to a patient on the same day that the scan has been done.
GP at Rosedean Surgery, Liskeard, Cornwall:
Dr Gareth Morgan Hughes
The cloud-based system for reviewing echo data is excellent. It is readily accessible anywhere, anytime and it is user friendly and fast. For me it allows me to access echo data at work efficiently and reliably and out of work in a way which is unobtrusive to family life. I am a big fan.